Thursday, November 29, 2007

Iraq: The Gift Bush Keeps On Giving

Mr. Bush doesn't appear to be worried about the effect the Iraq war will have on his legacy. In fact, he seems downright determined to ensure his Mesopotamia Mistake never makes the transition from current event to historical case study.

Monday, during a videoconference, Mr. Bush and Nuri al-Maliki separately signed a "declaration of principles" that calls for one more year of U.S. occupation of Iraq by U.N. mandate to be followed with a more permanent arrangement under sanction of a bilateral treaty.

Mr. Bush, you'll recall, is the beleaguered president of the United States. His second term ends in January of 2008, and rumor has it that he may actually step down then. If he does, that might well be his first and last constitutional exercise of presidential power.

Nuri al-Maliki is the beleaguered prime minister of Iraq. Just over a week before Maliki signed the declaration, not surprisingly, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) threatened to introduce legislature that would provide an "alternative" to Maliki's government, and he later said that he would be "looking at ways to invest our money into groups that can deliver" if Maliki can't make more political progress by January.

You know Bush was serious about getting this permanent occupation agreement signed because every time he really, really wants Maliki to do something, he has Huckleberry make scare noise about poop-canning the guy.

"War Czar" Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said at a White House briefing on Monday that the declaration of principles was an agreement to hold talks next year to determine what missions U.S. forces in Iraq will pursue, whether or not there will be permanent U.S. bases, and what sorts of immunity will be granted to private security firms like Blackwater. The talks will also explore what kinds of preferential treatment the Iraqi government will give U.S. oil companies like Halliburton. The goal of the talks will be to have all these issues and more resolved by the end of July 2008, comfortably before Bush leaves office and any Democrat can step in and fend off whatever further cluster bombs Bush manages to drop on us.

A Tale of Two Constitutions

Not everybody in Iraq is hats and hooters about this new declaration their boy Maliki just signed on to. As Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar of AlterNet reported on November 7th, Maliki has taken a Bush-like attitude toward his country's constitution. In 2006, Maliki requested an extension of the U.N. occupation mandate without getting approval of his parliament as required by his constitution's article 58, which states that parliament must ratify "international treaties and agreements by a two thirds majority." (Does any of this sound familiar yet?) Maliki argued that the U.N. mandate didn't qualify as an international treaty or agreement. The U.N. Security Council bought Maliki's argument and extended the mandate.

In June of 2007, Iraq's parliament passed a binding resolution that specifically guaranteed them an opportunity to block any further extensions of the U.N. mandate. Maliki did not veto the law. This "principles" deal he just signed on to with Bush will involve yet another end run around his parliament to extend the U.N. mandate, and then another one to establish a two-way treaty with the U.S.

Meanwhile, back at the other constitutional crisis…

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was completely out of sorts about the principle pact. "President Bush's agreement with the Iraqi government confirms his willingness to leave office with a U.S. Army tied down in Iraq and stretched to the breaking point, with no clear exit strategy from Iraq," she said.

Well, that's true. In fact, Bush isn't just out to leave his successor with no exit strategy; he's determined to seal the exit behind him altogether. But what's Pelosi going to do about it? Article II of the U.S. Constitution says that treaties must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, not the House. And what's the Senate going to do about blocking whatever deal Bush makes with Maliki?

Nothing, if the White House gets its way. According to War Czar Lute, the declaration is not a "treaty," per se. It's "a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations."

Well, yeah, Lute-ster, almost all agreements between nations start out as a set of principles for negotiations. But eventually, when those negotiations reach their conclusion, they generally need to become a treaty. The problem for the Bush gang is that if they subject the agreement to the treaty process, that will play into the ix-nay authority of the Democratically controlled Senate, which would negate the whole purpose behind getting the dope deal cut before a Democrat moves into the White House.

The leaders of the Democratically controlled Senate ought to be yelling, "Bloody hell no, Bush won't enter us into an international agreement without our approval," but Hillary Clinton, presently the Senate's most visible Democratic leader, has let herself get drawn off by a decoy issue.

On Tuesday, she warned Mr. Bush that a pact with Iraq on extending the troop presence there would be "dangerous," and "To be clear, attempts to establish permanent bases in Iraq would damage US interests in Iraq and the broader region, and I will continue to strongly oppose such efforts."

For the love of Mike, Hillary, wake up and smell the airplane glue. We've been hearing news of over a dozen "enduring bases" being built in Iraq since September of 2004. In 2005 and 2006, Congress--the Congress Hillary was a part of at the time--authorized or proposed almost $1 billion for military construction in Iraq.

The permanent bases are already there, Hillary!. You need to jump off that horse and start swimming downstream toward July, because if you wait until then to start asserting the Senate's prerogative to approve or disapprove treaties, you'll get slapped across the forehead with accusations that you, specifically, are trying to obstruct the good work Mr. Bush is doing to secure Iraq so you can make points with the voters on the lunatic left fringe while all those good and true GOP candidates--including and especially old "the troops want a chance to win" John McCain --are foursquare behind our commander in chief at the moment of his decisive victory in Iraq.

The administration's Rovewellian propaganda campaign for July victory in the Iraq treaty battle has already commenced. Uncle Karl himself fired the first salvo the day before Thanksgiving when he told PBS's Charlie Rose that Congress pushed Bush into invading Iraq.

You can't shrug this confrontation off, Democrats, and Atlas isn't going to come along and do it for you.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008. Visit here to listen to Jeff's recent conversation with Karen Kwiatkowski on National Forum.


  1. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Only because it was the article that first got my attention, I will point out that, on March 23, 2004, an article by Christine Spolar appeared in the Chicago Tribune entitled "14 'enduring bases' set for Iraq" (although in searching for a link to this article, several sources note even earlier mentions in the media - see for example:


  2. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Yeah, I'm sure McCain's right and the troops want to stay there for another 4, 8, 12, 16 years so they get their fair shake at 'winning' this thing.

    Seriously, some times I think we ought to just call McCain's bluff and say "Fine - don't let them come home til it's won.'

    Have fun, kiddos! Don't forget to write home!

  3. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Good post.

    Years ago I opined that the purpose behind our invasion of Iraq was to establish bases in the Middle East to threaten Iran and to protect our buddies. Hell, just watching the embassy building that we were constructing made it obvious we were never going to leave there. Finally, with this agreement the pretense is over. We are there and we will stay there.

    Why have a big army unless we use it to benefit the US. And we know, the business of America is its businesses. Why is any of this a surprise to anyone? Look at our history!

    However, outside the Green Zone, Americans will never be able to safely walk down the street in Iraq even though we will be running the country.

  4. Thanks to everyone, once again, for the excellent contributions. Much appreciated.



  5. You know, I am becoming fully convined that Bush doesn't believe that the constitution applies to him, and that he is above senate and congressional control...

    Time for a wake up call I believe...

  6. Anonymous8:34 PM


    This sentence "The goal of the talks will be to have all these issues and more resolved by the end of July 2009,..." should that be July 2008?

    What if the military can't meet goals because of this outrage? I guess I mean, will young men and women enlist if they have a chance to be rotated to duty in Iraq? Maybe that doesn't enter in considerations for enlisting.

    --- wkmaier

  7. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Dear TexasFred,

    Uhhhhhh... ya think? Welcome to our very depressing reality.

  8. WK,

    You bet that's supposed to say "July 2008." Yikes, thanks for the catch. I've managed to change it here and everywhere else this piece had migrated to.

    I sure appreciate you pointing this out.



  9. Anonymous1:51 PM

    "I guess I mean, will young men and women enlist if they have a chance to be rotated to duty in Iraq?"

    A fair number will enlist BECAUSE of that chance to contribute. I did many years ago.

  10. Anonymous11:57 AM


    Heavenly Lord, there is far more
    To life that this surviving,
    Struggle to flee from being poor
    While men are busy wiving;

    So even too, the need to feel
    Involved so to become
    Enraged about injustice--peal
    The bells or keep they mum.

    It rather is about some kind
    Of curious work of mind,
    Wherein the meaning so we find
    In life, with truth entwined.

    It is a grand adventure more
    Than striving to possess
    The purchased Wal-mart goods; by war
    Competitors to press.

    The bases have been built, so we
    Have not much further need
    For war, if oil most gingerly
    Flow forward to our greed.

    The oil beneath the ground is worth
    So much (of our demand no death),
    While cost of war, as it occur´th
    A fraction: broad remains that berth.